The Middle (S08E10) “Escape Orson”

Review: New year, same Hecks. It’s New Year’s Day and the Hecks are spending it in front of the TV (where else?). When the need for food leads them to the junk drawer for coupons, Frankie remembers that she bought a groupon for the Orson Escape Room that expires that day. Obviously they don’t want to spend time together other than watching TV, but they’ve already paid for it so the family reluctantly agrees to go. When they find out that the Donahues (who can apparently be rude) escaped the room in a record time, they are actually motivated to beat them.

Inside the escape room, the family and a friendly stranger named Milt are trying to find clues to get out. But things don’t go as smoothly as they could’ve, like I said, new year, same Hecks. Their secret weapon is Sue, who always wins the games at the Heck house. But she seems to have lost all of her game skills and when Axl confronts her about it, she confesses to him that she has always cheated in every game she played since she was a kid. She explains that winning games is the only thing she has going for her, so Axl promises to keep her secret to himself.

Brick is obsessed with Milt, who according to him is David S. Rosenthal, the writer of the Planet Nowhere books. He tries to find out if it’s really him, and everything points to it that he is in fact the famous writer. And as long as they’re in one room together, Brick takes advantage of it and reads Milt the one sentence he wrote two years ago. Obviously when Milt tells him that it’s great, Brick is very excited.

In the meantime, Frankie tells Mike about a dream she had where she was making out with Frank Sinatra. Mike isn’t happy about this even though Frankie tells him it was just an innocent dream.

The tension in the room grows when Sue fails to solve the last clue with just a few minutes left on the clock. Axl can’t take it anymore and tells everybody that Sue has always cheated. Against all odds the Hecks do eventually make it out of the room with 1 minute and 21 seconds left, which is better than the Donahues and because Sue solved the last puzzle without cheating, she finally feels good about herself after winning something. Brick feels good after his talk with Milt, who turns out to be someone from pest control. And Mike realizes that if even Frank Sinatra can ask Frankie how her day was in a dream, he could do that a little more often too. And of course the whole family feels the best when they can gloat to the Donahues about escaping the room in a new record.

It was interesting to see the Hecks locked up in a room like this, having to solve their problems without being able to just walk away from them. Scenes where they are all together are probably the strongest of the entire show (think of all the great car scenes we’ve seen) and this episode once again showed what kind of chaotic, but fun family the Hecks are.

Rating: 8.5/10

Just like the past two seasons, I have been writing down the callbacks that were on The Middle for the first 9 episodes of the season. You can find the post here. it will be updated with the new episodes, including Escape Orson, when the season ends.